Anti-THR liars of the year (and #8: Stanton Glantz and UCSF)

2014 might be the year that determines whether tobacco harm reduction (THR) will sweep the world (at least the wealthy parts of it) by 2025, or whether its delay, and the resulting suffering and death, will drag out for another decade after that.  That made 2013 an interesting year for those of us who monitor the extremists who are actively working in support of the suffering.

After we decided we should do a year-end countdown for 2013, it quickly became apparent that this does not lend itself to just listing particular individuals.  The lying is really not about particular personalities, though we do mention a few who stand out (not in a good way).  Thus, the list is a hybrid of people, types of liars, and types of lies, with the named entities mostly serving as symbolic representations.  It also became apparent that it was not all that useful to just base this on some rough counting of the lies, how blatant they were, and how loud they were shouted.  Rather, this is a gut-level hybrid that considers that, but also how much the lies and the liar matter and other considerations.  So you will see that the entity whose actions matter the most on this list is at #3, while the most blatant and aggressive liar is #8.  Also, rather than forcing the count to match the number of fingers humans happened to evolve, we identified those worth mentioning and went with that count.  Thus, we start with #8: Stanton Glantz (from the archives) and the University of California, San Francisco, whose once good reputation among real scientists has been heavily damaged by Glantz and his anti-tobacco extremist colleagues.

Now some might be surprised to see Glantz so low on the list because, as noted, he does earn the special award for Most Aggressive Liar.  For the course of a decade of all the anti-smokeless-tobacco lies, he was relatively silent about THR, despite being one of the most toxic anti-smoker activists, in terms of both his lies and general innumeracy and cluelessness about science.  But this year he turned his superpowers — an apparent inability to distinguish lies from truth (or the sociopathology to not care about the distinction) and ability to trick people into thinking he understands science at better than a middle-school level — to anti-e-cigarette activism.  He ranks low, however, because he is just an accident of history, the person who happened to stumble into the crazy jester niche that someone always fills.

For any contentious and important topic, there is room for someone to gain fame and fortune by being the extremist liar, and so someone always fills that niche.  For most lie-based activist positions, the Loudest Liar niche tends to be filled by some entertainer or gadfly of letters, or an organization that can attract a few wealthy backers.  But when there is government grant money backing the lies, it is often an unscrupulous mediocre professor who fills the niche.

Still, Glantz is worth mentioning as more than a generic type because of a few particular propensities.  Most notably he excels at relentlessly repeating lies about what research shows, even after being explicitly publicly corrected by the researchers (and anyone else with basic literacy skills who weighs in), who point out that he is completely misrepresenting their results.  Those are some serious crazy-liar chops.  Few people, even among the other major anti-THR liars, will so baldly misrepresent what the science shows (except when it is the junk science from their tobacco control industry fellows, and thus the authors misrepresent it in the first place).  Fewer still are so unconcerned with their reputation that they will keep repeating the lies after being pointedly reprimanded for them (or perhaps they actually have a sense of decency).  For that, Glantz rises above (which is to say, sinks below) just being a font of generic lies.

He further secures a position on the list, in spite of having descended to jester status — even within the tobacco control community — because he and UCSF won one of FDA’s huge Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science (TCORS) grants.  Frankly, this award says more about the process used to decide these awards.  (Aside:  it is not just those of us who prefer real science over tobacco control who feel that process was an embarrassing failure.  In addition to turning down some excellent applications from politically neutral centers and industry-academic cooperations, they turned down quality applications from established tobacco controllers who are good scientists — and were also livid about this — in favor of the UCSF hacks who apparently do not even know 101-level concepts like the difference between correlation and causation.)  Unfortunately, that center grant is going to lend some credibility to the hacks among the ignorant masses even though, among the knowledgeable, it instead serves to damage the credibility of the granting process.

The one bright spot about funding in this story is that UCSF sought grassroots crowdsourced donations to support one of their anti-e-cigarette “research” efforts but were offered only a pittance from a few donors in spite of offering incentives.   (If you click that link, notice that they already declared what conclusion they would reach in the request for funding, much as they did with the TCORS application — they do not do research, they write political propaganda and do not even try to hide that plan.)  Contrast this with CASAA’s research fundraising, in which we secured that sum for the Igor Burstyn research in four days.  There simply is no grassroots support for the likes of Glantz and UCSF, and tobacco control in general.  There might be millions of people who will express pro-TC and anti-THR opinions in opinion surveys, but their feelings are only a millimeter deep — they would not spend a dollar or a minute of their time supporting that cause.  As some of the rest of this countdown will further illustrate, anti-THR exists only because extremists have seized control of some government and other institutions, but that control is eroding as their lies become more widely understood.

22 responses to “Anti-THR liars of the year (and #8: Stanton Glantz and UCSF)

  1. Beyond insightful, with a twist of ironic spine tingling, cringe we are now better informed and will not forget.

  2. Pingback: Anti-THR Liars of The Year (and #8: Stanton Glantz and UCSF) • The Spinfuel News Blog

  3. “:There simply is no grassroots support for the likes of Glantz and UCSF, and tobacco control in general. ”

    What an understatement! LOL!! Happy Holidays:-)

  4. Carl, your description of Glantz transcends mockery and has elevated your writing into a thing of lasting hilarity. May Glantz never live this down!

  5. Talking about a lack of public support, much the same applies to Action on Smoking and Health (UK). They received less that £10,000 last year in ‘public donations’, and a large part of that came from their own directors and hangers-on.
    Talk about astroturfing ……..

  6. Pingback: Anti-THR liar of the year #7: Cheryl Healton and the Paleo Tobacco Control Industry | Anti-THR Lies and related topics

  7. There is something really weird about this Glantz situation, which is how on earth does he keep his (presumed) high reputation at UCSF? There is something really pongy there. It is very odd how confident he seems to be that his position is so safe that he can lie, lie and lie again. It makes you wonder what hold he has over the University Authorities. Or could it be that those authorities are as corrupt as Glantz? Are there links with the WHO and Big Pharm?

    It just makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    • Yeah, it is odd, isn’t it. From an insider perspective, I can tell you that “public health”-tending health science schools generally tend to be pretty weak when it comes to worrying about honesty and accuracy. But this does seem a bit pongy (did I use that correctly??) even by those standards.

      • What I find even more baffling and frustrating is how the media give him such an easy ride. I have never seen or heard any TV interviewer actually fact check his utterances or challenge him on the evidence he so casually gives.
        So much for the media’s concern for truth and holding people to account.

  8. Pingback: Anti-THR liar of the year #7: Cheryl Healton and the Paleo Tobacco Control Industry | Vapist Info

  9. I’ve been reading quite deeply about the attacks on Enstrom (especially) regarding the BMJ SHS study. I see that Glantz has been slandering other researchers for at least a decade, if not more. At the same time, he has been producing junk science of his own.

    I can only assume that he has this freedom because he must be a wonderful teacher.

    • Carl V Phillips

      LOL. I have never heard of him actually teaching. It is a horrifying thought. But it might explain how he creates anyone clueless enough to coauthor with him.

  10. Pingback: The Good Doctor's Anti-THR Liars of the Year Awards

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  14. I would like to put him forward for the worse person of the year award for 2013, he is utterly insane too. People like him cause so much damage because so many people are just too gullible. The wheels will hopefully fall off soon enough though, in the internet age people are swift to call BS (as you have so succinctly in this blog), back in the old pre-internet days he would have gotten away with this crap forever.

  15. Pingback: Follow-up on the worse anti-THR liars of 2013: WHO and ALA’s Harold Wimmer are truly champion liars | Anti-THR Lies and related topics

  16. Pingback: More anti-THR junk science from UCSF, the new Karolinska | Anti-THR Lies and related topics

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